This was one of the largest nineteenth century exhibitions, and marks something of a high point in the history of size and elaboration. It also marked the start of what some term ‘Exhibition Fatigue’. Visited by a remarkable 16 million people and covering 185 acres it was an exhibition on an unprecedented scale, despite which it made an even more remarkable loss of 28 million francs. Held at the height of the late nineteenth centuries love of these great displays of industry, nation and production each exhibition had to outdo the last and be ever more elaborate. Exhibition Fatigue is a term used to describe the state where exhibitors were becoming reluctant to produce lavish exhibits that were both expensive to manufacture and hard to sell. Every ten years was one thing, but every two years was quite another.
Politically this Exhibition was used by the government to re-establish France on the World’s stage, they wanted to forget previous problems such as the national loss in the war with Prussia of 1870-71. There hadn’t been an exhibition since 1867 and the French government saw it as high time the nation held such an event. It might have been the beginning of ‘Exhibition Fatigue’ for some, but it was still a huge and elaborate event visited by a record number of people.
See my blog post about the medal that Eugene Oudine (1810 – 1887) created for this exhibition. (click on the image)